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China sentences 5 on charges of spreading cult teachings

BEIJING (AP) — A court in northeast China sentenced five people to prison Saturday for spreading the teachings of a banned religious group that’s been linked to a killing of a woman in a McDonald’s restaurant last year.

The Intermediate Court in the city of Panjin said the five were sentenced to two to three years for undermining the implementation of the law, recruiting believers and propagating the group, called Quannengshen.

Members of the sect, whose name translates roughly as “all-powerful spirit,” were sentenced for killing a woman in May 2014 after she refused to give her phone number to the suspects, who were trying to recruit new members.

The group believes Jesus has been resurrected as a Chinese woman, and it has been officially banned along with 13 other sects of various types.

Following last year’s incident, authorities announced the roundup of hundreds of alleged cult members. The killing was caught on security camera footage and shown repeatedly on state television, along with the trial proceedings, in which two members were sentenced to death.

China has struggled at times to control grass-roots religious movements based on Christian or Buddhist ideology, most notably the Falungong meditation movement, which attracted millions of adherents before being brutally repressed in 1999.

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